Sunday, February 22, 2009

One "Sure-Fire" Method Guaranteed To Upset A Firearms Instructor

Today, I was at a shooting range expecting to meet a student who wanted to improve her shooting skills. It's not a rare occurrence; I do it all the time. I bend over backwards for my students. My goal is to get them at a level where they can go to a range by themselves and safely shoot.

Anyhow, I hanging around the register area. The range is very busy, as has been the case since the recent Presidential election. I suspect many of the people there were folks who have not had any fundamental firearms handling instruction. As a firearms instructor, I am extremely careful with my handling of firearms. I expect everyone else to do the same. Perhaps, I "expect" too much.

One gentleman at a nearby counter was handling several different shotguns. Not a problem in of itself. Personally, I like shotguns and I actually own one. I love that unmistakable sound when a shell is racked into the chamber. Very intimidating.

So this "customer" allows the muzzle of the shotgun to point in my general area. I am shocked and appalled at his demonstrated firearms handling ability. I move to the side to get out of the shotgun's line of fire. I look at the guy like he is a fool. In other words, if looks could kill I would be in a holding tank awaiting an arraignment. Needless to say, I didn't say anything to the guy.

My student still hasn't arrived, so I am still awaiting her arrival. As expected, I keep my eyes on the shotgun customer. It wasn't even five minutes before he pointed another shotgun at me. Okay, now I am not just upset. I am incensed. I sternly and loudly tell the "customer" not to point a gun at me. I also describe his firearms handling as atrocious. He doesn't look my way. I take a couple of steps in his direction, and I again loudly speak my mind, "I am talking to YOU!"

The range employee "helping" the customer asks me to calm down. He's suggesting to me that I am over-reacting. Over-reacting? Ha! How am I over-reacting? Am I to believe that the shotguns that the customer was handling were unloaded? Should I trust with my life that the shotguns were unloaded?

When I was training to be a firearms instructor, we had to handle firearms. No surprise there. However, if any person had picked up a pistol and failed to check whether it was loaded he automatically failed the class. No exceptions. That experience has not been lost on me.

Before I conduct a firearms safety training class, I always watch the video of the DEA Agent who shot himself with an empty gun before a group of school children. It is very sobering. Never ever assume a gun is not loaded.

I never "assume" that any firearm is NOT loaded. That concept is a fundamental gun safety rule. Another fundamental gun safety rule is to never point your firearm at something that you don't want to destroy. That's two fundamental gun rules being broken. People get shot with "unloaded" firearms. I don't plan to be one of them.

Imagine this: an evil prankster goes into a gun shop and secretly loads a firearm before giving it back to the gun range employee. Would you bet your life that the person handling "that" gun would check to make sure that it was not loaded before pointing it at you AND pulling the trigger? I wouldn't and I hope you wouldn't either.

As for me over-reacting, it is not like I drew my concealed pistol and shot the guy because I had a reasonable and honest belief that my life was in imminent danger. My "advice" to that customer may have taught him a lesson that might prevent him from making a tragic mistake in the future.


Mike W. said...

Sounds like a teachable moment rather than an overreaction to me.

detroitccw said...

I feel the same way. IMHO, all "customers" of a gun shop should be "supervised" by the attending saleman. There is a way to inform the buyer how to handle a firearm without pointing it at others and losing a potential sale.

Unknown said...

Sounds to me like there might be some issues at that shop. Not only is it the "customers" responsibility but it is the "salesman's" as well to make sure everyone around is safe.